When to Update Your Mobile App

Congratulations! You’re on the iTunes app store or Android’s store! You’re just like everyone else who’s there cluttering up the digital shelves, too!

All sarcasm aside, it is a victory just getting an app made and out to the downloading masses. But just like getting content published online anywhere else, having something online just gets you a seat at the blackjack table. It doesn’t mean you’ll get to play for very long. A way to inject extra relevance to your app is by updating it. Sure, you add more functionality to it, but it also gets a shot at being talked about online at blogs. But knowing when to deploy your update and how to hustle it accordingly is still incredibly vague.

“There used to be quite the science when it came to pushing out email updates/newsletters and the like,” said Dave Meeker, the director of emerging technologies at Roundarch Isobar. “I'd say you'd want to release your app to the world on a Sunday, knowing you might have more people updating software and possibly hunting for new apps over the weekend - once they've settled into it. Some say Friday or Saturday, but research seems to point to Sunday being the best day.”

But, indeed, the research does back it up. In 2011, Mobilewalla found that:

Even if Sunday was not always the developers’ chosen launch day, Mobilewalla found that apps released then statistically performed the best... That is, they made it into the list of the top 240 mobile applications. In this case, Mobilewalls is defining the “top 240″ apps as those that achieve the highest ranking in their respective stores. 42 percent of the iOS apps released on a Sunday made it into the top 240, while 11 percent of Android apps did the same." But just because you release on a Sunday doesn’t mean you’ll get noticed.

According to Jared Steffes, the founder of Matador App, “It’s a pain to get consumers to update. It’s probably a problem with focus… once you update one time, you get taken out of the app store and forget what you were doing just before that.”

There are things you can use to track what your users are doing with your app. Jon Stroz, the VP of marketing for Accella says that “maintaining and updating the app is crucial to it's continued success. Using products like Flurry to keep an eye on how people are using your app and how long they are keeping engaged with it is a must. You can see when users start to drop off or when their length of
time starts to diminish.”

Or, you can always do what some apps do: Not allow users to use your app until they update. Yes, you can do that. And maybe you should.

David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.

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